It is the first day of the Punchestown Festival and Timeform's Irish team have decided to concentrate on the place markets for today's SmartPlays....
"There is no denying that Burrenbridge Lodge's form is very solid but he has given the handicapper plenty to go on and looks weighted up the hilt as a result..."
Enda Bolger is synonymous with banks races at Punchestown and he saddles three in the Ladies Cup, a race he is hoping to win for the third successive season. Zest For Life, who won this contest in 2010, should go well but it is difficult to envisage No Notions being out of the first three. A dual point winner, John Thomas McNamara's mount finished in front of both Boxer Georg and Zest For Life in a hunter chase at Fairyhouse last season, and shaped a good deal better than being pulled up would imply in the Joseph O'Reilly there last time, booked for an admittedly remote fifth when pulled up between the last two. He is still open to some improvement after just six career starts, is sure to have been well schooled and has cheekpieces on for the first time.
Burrenbridge Lodge has enjoyed a tremendous first campaign over hurdles, landing his fourth success of the season in a Grade 2 for juveniles at Fairyhouse in February and finishing in the frame on four of his five other starts, but he looks worth opposing on his handicap debut at 16:55. There is no denying that his form is very solid but he has given the handicapper plenty to go on and looks weighted up the hilt as a result. He has been on the go for a long time now and this is a fiendishly competitive contest. A place lay of Kieran Purcell's gelding is advised.
There isn't a great deal of previous form to go on in the concluding four-year-old but it looks a particularly interesting contest with a few very nicely-bred newcomers and most of the top yards represented. Director's Forum is one of the most experienced in the field having had three runs and, although he has done enough to suggest that he is up to winning an ordinary bumper (traded at 1.011/100 in-running on Betfair last time), it would be something of a surprise if there weren't a few too good for him here. A son of Pivotal, he shapes as if he will prove best at a bare two miles, so the forecast testing conditions are unlikely to play to his strengths and it seems significant that Nina Carberry has been booked to ride his stable companion The Big Easy.
Timeform Irish SmartPlays
Back No Notions for a place in the 15:40
Place lay Burrenbridge Lodge in the 16:55
Place Lay Director's Forum in the 19:15